"I love finding out morning news on Twitter," two-time major champion Collin Morikawa tweeted.
Multiple news outlets reported that PGA Tour players were not told ahead of time that the news was coming before a press release was posted online and PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and Saudi PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan appeared together on CNBC for an interview.
Monahan was asked during that interview what he thought the response would be from PGA Tour players.
"Listen, a lot of people have been reading about the tension. And I said previously that we were going down our path and they were going down theirs," Monahan said. "And today, that tension goes away. The litigation is dropped. We're announcing to the world, that on behalf of this game, we're coming together. And it's less about how people respond today, and it's all about how people respond in 10 years. And when they see the impact we're having on this game together, there will be a lot of smiles on people's faces, and there will be a lot more people playing this game all over the world.
"And if you're a young player that wants to get to the highest level in the game today, you'll be more inspired than you've ever been before."
PGA Tour fan favorite Joel Dahmen poked fun at LIV's team concept, which the tours announced would be kept alive in some form in their new combined entity.
"I've grown up being a fan of the 4 Aces. Maybe one day I get to play for them on the PGA Tour!" he tweeted.
Others were not shy to express their anger.
"Love finding out info on twitter. This is amazing. Y'all should be ashamed and have a lot of questions to answer," Wesley Bryan wrote on Twitter. "I feel betrayed, and will not not be able to trust anyone within the corporate structure of the PGA TOUR for a very long time."
LIV Golf players were not given an indication the merger was coming either, according to the Golf Channel, though they received the news differently.
"Awesome day today," Phil Mickelson tweeted with a smiling emoji.
Mickelson was among the first players to make the jump from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf, and it was the six-time major champion's presence that legitimized LIV enough for others to follow. Mickelson has not been shy in recent months about lobbing accusations of collusion at the PGA Tour and other golf governing bodies.
While the likes of Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson and others accepted massive guaranteed contracts to defect to LIV, other players turned them down to stay loyal to the PGA Tour. Hideki Matsuyama of Japan reportedly turned down $300 million from LIV to remain with the PGA.
The tours' announcement said there will be a path for LIV players who want to re-apply for membership to the PGA or DP World Tour. Barstool Golf's Dan Rapaport reported that players who defected to LIV will need to pay a fine that "won't be equal for every player."
--Field Level Media
A transformation of professional golf is the likely outcome given the stakes and personalities involved.
The agreement puts an end to the pending litigation between the legacy tours and the Saudi-backed LIV league that would have gone to court in California next year, and it caps off a saga that caused turmoil in the sport for close to two years.
Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund -- which provided LIV with enough money to make star players massive guaranteed offers and pay record tournament purses to lure them away from the PGA Tour -- will make a capital investment into the combined entity as part of the agreement.
PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan will be the chairman of the new entity, and PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan will be its CEO. The PGA Tour will appoint a majority of a new board of directors and hold the majority voting interest. PIF, meanwhile, will have exclusive rights for further investments and a right of first refusal on any new capital injected into the entity.
The tours also said in their joint announcement that players who were indefinitely suspended by the PGA Tour or the DP World Tour for playing in LIV events could have a path to return, as the organizations "will work cooperatively and in good faith to establish a fair and objective process for any players who desire to re-apply for membership" to the legacy tours.
"After two years of disruption and distraction, this is a historic day for the game we all know and love," Monahan said in a statement. "This transformational partnership recognizes the immeasurable strength of the PGA Tour's history, legacy and pro-competitive model and combines with it the DP World Tour and LIV -- including the team golf concept -- to create an organization that will benefit golf's players, commercial and charitable partners and fans. Going forward, fans can be confident that we will, collectively, deliver on the promise we've always made -- to promote competition of the best in professional golf and that we are committed to securing and driving the game's future."
While the new entity will be a for-profit organization, PGA Tour Inc. will remain as a 501(c)(6) tax-exempt organization.
Monahan sat side by side with Al-Rumayyan for an interview with CNBC Tuesday morning. Though Monahan had been critical of LIV's Saudi ties in the past, he said Tuesday that the capital PIF can provide is "an opportunity we've never had before."
"There's just so much opportunity, and it's opportunity that we have not been able to activate, but we do now," Monahan said. "And we're going to do it in a highly disciplined and rigorous way. And when you look at our sport, PGA Tour has never been stronger than it is right now."
PGA Tour players expressed surprise and disgust on social media, saying they were not informed the news was coming ahead of time. A memo was sent to membership later Tuesday morning, which said Monahan would be available to speak with players at 4 p.m. at the RBC Canadian Open in Toronto.
"Safe to say we're all pretty surprised out here," PGA Tour winner Brendon Todd told Golf Channel.
"... I think the PGA Tour and the players have worked so hard in the last year to get the tour right, to create a good system going forward with the designated events, keep the sponsors engaged and happy. I think I need more details to figure out if this is gonna be positive or negative. Any time you're taking money from the Saudi Public Investment Fund, that's probably a difficult decision to make, and it's one that Jay and the team definitely struggled with for a long time and ultimately came to the decision that they're gonna take the investment and try to get some of the disruption out of the game.
"I think for us out here on the PGA Tour that were loyal and stuck with it, I think we're probably anxious and a little frustrated to hear that potentially some of the LIV players could come back to our tour. It doesn't quite seem fair to a lot of us, I'm sure."
The decision to merge comes less than two weeks before the third major championship of the men's golf season, the U.S. Open. For parts of 2022 and 2023, the majors were the only times that LIV Golf players commingled with the PGA and DP World Tour players.
Animosity grew between the factions, with Phil Mickelson often speaking as the de facto player leader for LIV and directing accusations of collusion at the PGA Tour and other governing bodies, and Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy fiercely defending the PGA Tour and criticizing LIV frequently.
McIlroy had not yet commented on the merger but was scheduled to meet with the press Wednesday as the defending champion of the Canadian Open.
Mickelson, for his part, tweeted "Awesome day today" with a smiling emoji.
--Field Level Media
Michael Block, the 46-year-old club professional who tied for 15th last month at Oak Hill Country Club, narrowly missed out on making the field for this month's major championship at Los Angeles Country Club.
Competing in a 36-hole qualifier in Toronto on Monday, Block finished sixth of 27 players but needed to make the top three to earn his spot in the U.S. Open.
Block shot rounds of 69 and 66 to go 5 under at Lambton Golf & Country Club, according to the USGA's website. That was two spots out of the third and final guaranteed place, and one shot behind Harry Hall of England and Jimmy Walker, two PGA Tour players who were named alternates.
Ryan Gerard was the site's medalist at 11 under (63-66). Vincent Norrman of Sweden (69-63) and Ryan Armour (66-67) grabbed the second and third spots.
Block still finished better than PGA Tour players Harry Higgs, Richy Werenski and Englishman Callum Tarren.
Block, the head pro at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo, Calif., moved his entry from the Los Angeles-area qualifier to Toronto because he received a sponsor's exemption to compete in the RBC Canadian Open later this week.
Block's 18-year-old son, amateur Dylan Block, also reached the final round of U.S. Open qualifying but will not make it. The younger block opened with a 10-over 81 at Hillcrest Country Club in Los Angeles and was even for his round with four holes to go as of Monday evening.
The largest qualifier took place in Columbus, Ohio, given that the PGA Tour was in the area for the Memorial Tournament last weekend. Olin Browne Jr., the 34-year-old son of former PGA Tour winner Olin Browne, beat out 102 other golfers for medalist honors at 11 under (66-67).
Stewart Cink, who turned 50 last month, earned his way into the major with a 68-67 showing. He was part of a large tie for third at 9 under. Other PGA Tour players advancing from Columbus included Davis Thompson, Eric Cole, Luke List and Patrick Rodgers.
Kevin Streelman and two amateurs, Nick Dunlap of Alabama and David Nyfjall of Sweden, qualified out of a four-for-three playoff, with 2009 U.S. Open champ Lucas Glover being the odd man out.
Canada's Taylor Pendrith made the field by finishing second at his qualifier in Springfield, Ohio.
Cameron Kuchar, the 15-year-old son of PGA Tour veteran Matt Kuchar, did not qualify after shooting 76-76 at his qualifier in Boynton Beach, Fla.
Jesse Schutte of Oregon and Hong Kong amateur Alexander Yang grabbed the two qualifying spots in Lakewood, Wash.
The "longest day" will carry into a second day, as the final qualifying berths at Hillcrest Country Club in Los Angeles still must be determined. Three players -- PGA Tour regular Charley Hoffman, Josh Anderson and amateur Preston Summerhays -- will compete for two U.S. Open berths. Three other players already booked their spots from Hillcrest, including LIV Golf's David Puig of Spain.
--Field Level Media
Once ranked as high as No. 12 in the Official World Golf Ranking, Wolff has not performed well of late on the Saudi-funded LIV circuit and withdrew from the most recent event, LIV Golf D.C., before the final round.
Wolff's LIV Golf team, the Brooks Koepka-captained Smash GC, unfollowed Wolff on social media and removed his name from its social media bios, making it unclear whether he was still affiliated with the team.
Wolff, still just 24 years old, burst onto the professional golf scene in 2019 after his college career with golf powerhouse Oklahoma State. He won the 3M Open as a 20-year-old in July 2019, tied for fourth at the 2020 PGA Championship and finished second to Bryson DeChambeau at the 2020 U.S. Open.
He took a mental health break from the PGA Tour for part of 2021 and said he was doing better when he returned. The next year, Wolff was among the PGA Tour players who competed in LIV's debut event outside London and was suspended from the tour indefinitely.
Wolff has not played any major since missing the cut at the 2022 Masters and PGA Championship. He attempted to qualify for the 2022 U.S. Open but walked off the course after a poor drive during his qualifier.
Thirteen other LIV players attempted to make the U.S. Open field via 36-hole qualifiers on Monday, often called "the longest day in golf." Sergio Garcia of Spain previously made the field via a qualifier last month in Dallas.
Carlos Ortiz of Mexico and Sebastian Munoz of Colombia each secured their spots in the field on Monday after going to playoffs at their respective sites.
At Pine Tree, Ortiz won a three-for-one playoff against Luis Gagne of Costa Rica and Wesley Bryan to earn the third and final spot available. At Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Md., Munoz led the pack after the first 18 holes thanks to a 66 but fell into a four-for-two playoff after shooting a second-round 73. He birdied the first playoff hole and joined amateur Michael Brennan in getting the final two spots.
LIV players who failed to qualify included Harold Varner III, Cameron Tringale, Scott Vincent of Zimbabwe, Peter Uihlein, Jason Kokrak, Matthew NeSmith (withdrew), Marc Leishman of Australia and James Piot.
At Hillcrest Country Club in Los Angeles, LIV member David Puig of Spain earned one of five available U.S. Open berths, but another LIV player, Brendan Steele, finished one stroke short of qualifying.
--Field Level Media
But he wasn't teeing off at Brookside Golf and Country Club in Columbus, Ohio. Rather, he carried the bag for friend and former Oklahoma State roommate Zach Bauchou, who was striving to earn one of 11 spots in next week's U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club.
Hovland, 25, didn't have to travel far; Brookside is about 15 minutes from Muirfield Village, where he won the Memorial on Sunday.
Golf Channel reported that Hovland and Bauchou met for dinner on Tuesday, and Hovland accepted when Bauchou invited him to caddy on Monday.
The 25-year-old Hovland, who won on tour for the first time since 2021, probably offered Bauchou some good advice. The latter played in the Mexico Open on the PGA Tour in April but missed the cut.
The two played together on Oklahoma State's 2018 team that won the NCAA title. Also on the team was Matthew Wolff, who won one PGA Tour event before moving to LIV Golf last year.
Hovland aims for his first major victory at the U.S. Open.
--Field Level Media
Officials from the PGA Tour, Deere & Company and the Quad Cities Golf Classic Charitable Foundation announced the extension through 2026 on Monday at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill.
"The John Deere Classic is a signature example of one of the PGA TOUR's most engaged communities coming together to achieve great things," PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said. "As title sponsor, John Deere has gone above and beyond to help create an outstanding experience for our players and golf fans, while making a lasting impact with local nonprofits."
John Deere is one of the PGA Tour's longest-running title sponsors, dating back to 1998.
J.T. Poston is the defending champion at the John Deere Classic, which takes place this year from July 6-9.
--Field Level Media
Zhang, who turned pro on May 26, vaulted 420 spots to No. 62 in the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings following her playoff victory at the Mizuho Americas Open on Sunday. The win also came with full membership on the LPGA Tour after the former Stanford star received a sponsor's invite into her first event.
Zhang is now eligible for the 2024 Solheim Cup and will certainly be on the radar for United States captain Stacy Lewis. The top seven players on the U.S. points list will earn automatic spots on the 12-player team, as will the top two players in the world rankings who are not already qualified.
Lewis will select the final three players. One event into her professional career, the 20-year-old Zhang is already the 15th-ranked U.S. player in the world.
The only change in the top 10 of the Rolex Rankings this week was South Korea's Hyo-Joo Kim moving up two spots to No. 8, while Canada's Brooke Henderson slid down two spots to No. 10.
Following her record-setting amateur career, Zhang defeated Jennifer Kupcho on the second playoff hole on Sunday to become the first player since 1951 to win in her LPGA debut.
"You guys will see me more on the LPGA Tour, as I am taking membership from now on, and I'll be playing in 2023," Zhang said, although she did not confirm when her next start will be.
"I just can only say that this is just amazing, and I'm really just in a place where I want to improve myself, and I want to keep on doing better and better," she said in her winning press conference. "So we'll be seeing what I do in the future. As of now, I'm just soaking it all in."
On Zhang's immediate radar are final exams at Stanford along with moving next week.
"I have no idea what I'm going to do with that, I've got an essay due, past due for CS," she said of exams. "We'll figure that out. I'm also moving on the 13th, so I have a busy week ahead of me, and that's not golf related."
--Field Level Media
He was tied for ninth and two strokes back of the lead at 4 under through 54 holes.
Morikawa, 26, carded a 68 on Saturday with eight birdies and four bogeys.
He was runner-up at this event in Dublin, Ohio, in 2021, losing to Patrick Cantlay on the first playoff hole.
--Field Level Media
Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel revealed the nugget in an interview on Freakonomics Radio released Wednesday night. He said Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau, among the biggest names who defected from the PGA Tour to the Saudi-funded LIV league, approached Endeavor seeking funding.
Crucially, Endeavor's support would have replaced LIV's backing from Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, a point of contention for many who take issue with the Saudi kingdom's poor human rights record and accuse it of "sportswashing."
Emanuel said Endeavor's business ties to the PGA Tour ultimately prevented them from pursuing a deal.
"We're all connected in golf," Emanuel said. "And (the PGA Tour) said, ‘Please don't do it.' So we stopped. I'm friends with (tour commissioner Jay Monahan). We have a lot of business with Jay. I don't want to hurt Jay."
Instead, Emanuel said he encouraged Monahan to take the threat LIV Golf posed seriously.
"I said to Jay, ‘We're pulling out. But you have got to figure out an economic solution here because ... it's going to force you,'" Emanuel said. "And he did. To his credit, I think Jay did an incredible job."
LIV Golf is in its second season and continues to receive its funding from Saudi Arabia. One of its star players, Brooks Koepka, won the PGA Championship in May in a field made up of mostly PGA Tour and DP World Tour golfers.
--Field Level Media
Horschel arrived at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio, as the defending champion, but acknowledged Wednesday that his year to date on the golf course has been "abysmal." It quickly got worse on Thursday.
Horschel parred the opening hole before the wheels began to rattle with three bogeys. He made the turn in 5-over 41 and then carded a pair of double bogeys en route to a 9-over 43 on the back nine.
At the end of the day, Horschel was better than only one of the 119 players who finished the opening round. Chad Ramey carded a 16-over 88 while Dylan Frittelli withdrew at 15-over with four holes to play.
"I'll keep working," said Horschel, who totaled six bogeys and three double bogeys in a birdie-free round. "As much as I would love to throw in the towel and not come out tomorrow, that's just not in me. I'm just not one of those players. There's plenty of those guys out here on tour that would make an excuse about being injured and everything."
With Horschel already struggling at 8 over, his group was put on the clock on the 13th hole. They were able to get back into position by the 15th tee, despite Horschel coming off his third double bogey of the day.
"I'm making a big number on every single hole, it seems like," he said. "I'm struggling every hole.
"Listen, my confidence is the lowest it's been in my entire career."
However, like he insisted the previous day, Horschel said his form is not as far off as the crooked numbers on his scorecard might indicate.
"As low as it feels, it feels like I'm not that far off at the same time," said Horschel, 36, a seven-time winner since joining the PGA Tour in 2011. "Which is insane to see when you see me shoot 84 today. It wouldn't make sense to a lot of people. But I don't think I'm that far off.
"It's a day and I've had plenty of these days this year," added Horschel, who has missed six cuts in 15 events this season. "Not this bad, but it's just a day. We'll get by it."
--Field Level Media
U.S. Amateur champion Sam Bennett, who became a household name while playing in the final Saturday group at the Masters in April, carded a 1-under par round of 71 at The Memorial Tournament. That had him tied with the likes of two-time major champion Collin Morikawa and Viktor Hovland.
"I was locked in," said Bennett, who carded four birdies against three bogeys on Thursday. "I played the Masters. I made the cut at the U.S. Open last year. I played Arnold Palmer, Valero, a tournament in Dubai. So I kind of know what it's like a little bit out here and what it takes to be successful.
"I'm experienced... only thing now I got to worry about is playing good golf."
Despite Bennett's experience on the major stage, Zhang's professional debut has been even more highly anticipated. In just two years at Stanford, she posted a school-record 12 wins in 20 events, and in only 10 events in 2022-23 she tied Tiger Woods' single-season school record of eight titles.
The No. 1-ranked women's amateur in the world, Zhang did not disappoint with a 2-under 70 in the first round of the Mizuho Americas Open on Thursday. Like Bennett, she offset a trio of bogeys with five birdies.
"It was amazing. It felt pretty regular throughout out round once I got into the zone," Zhang said. "But the anticipation was for sure there. I feel like there has been a lot of things happening the last couple days and last couple weeks, so for me to come out here and just try to stay composed, I feel like I did a pretty good job at it.
"Tried my best out there."
Both players went out in the morning wave of their respective tournaments and are in excellent position to make the cut in their first professional tournaments.
"That's just the beauty of golf. You're always going to be on edge," said Zhang, who was five shots behind the morning lead of 7 under set by Lauren Hartlage. "I'm a competitor. ... This field is very hard. It's not a field that I've competed in on the regular, so I'm still trying to play the best I can.
"Knowing that there is a lot of great scores out there, I'm still trying to do the best that I can do."
Meanwhile, Bennett is preparing for life on the road as a professional. No matter what happens on Friday, he is driving to the RBC Canadian Open next week before heading to Los Angeles for the U.S. Open the following week.
That's on the heels of returning to Texas A&M and competing with his teammates in the NCAA Championships last weekend.
"It's kind of crazy. Last night I was thinking I was like, 'Man, I won't be home for a while,'" he said. "It's kind of lonely at times from what I hear.
"But it's great. This is right where I want to be, right where I've always wanted to do and I'm looking to seize the opportunity."
--Field Level Media
The South African withdrew after falling to 15 over par through 14 holes at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio. He cited illness as the reason for his exit.
After playing even through three par-4 holes on Thursday, Frittelli bogeyed the par-3 No. 4 and the par-5 No. 5 before his lone birdie. He sank a 6-foot, 8-inch putt at the par-4 No. 6 to improve to 1 over.
A bogey 6 at No. 7 and a final par at No. 8 were the calm before the storm. Frittelli made double bogey, triple, triple and double at Nos. 9-12. His tee shots at Nos. 10-12 all went either out of bounds or into a water hazard.
A bogey at No. 13 was followed by a double bogey at No. 14 and a running total of 15 over with four holes remaining when he called it a day.
The 2019 John Deere Classic winner, Frittelli, 32, has struggled this season on the PGA Tour with 13 missed cuts and only two top-25 finishes in 22 events entering this week.
He also has three withdrawals. He departed the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February after going 11 over through two rounds before the 54-hole cut, and the RBC Heritage in April after an opening-round 80.
He has made one cut since the end of February at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans -- a team event -- where he tied for 26th on April 23.
The former University of Texas golfer is ranked 227th in the Official World Golf Ranking and is 136th in the FedEx Cup standings.
--Field Level Media
Bennett, a highly decorated collegiate golfer at Texas A&M, will make his professional debut at this week's Memorial Tournament.
The 23-year-old has already played in PGA Tour events as an amateur and gained entry into majors as the reigning U.S. Amateur champion, but this week will be different at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.
"I'm excited," Bennett said. "College was great, it was fun. But now I'm ready to take my game to the next level and I got a good opportunity here at The Memorial here this week to get started. I got this and then RBC (Canadian Open) next week and then U.S. Open. So nice little three-week stretch to start my professional career off."
Bennett played his last collegiate tournament, the NCAA Championships, this past weekend in Scottsdale, Ariz. He tied for 74th individually (15-over-par 295) as Texas A&M finished 13th at Grayhawk Golf Club.
But his performance in April at Augusta National still seems fresh and was a subject of his Wednesday press conference.
He carded two rounds of 68, played with the lead group on Saturday and finished in a tie for 16th at 2 under to earn the Silver Cup as low amateur.
"That was awesome," Bennett said of playing with the final group on Saturday at the Masters. "That was a great experience. I wasn't nervous. I really wasn't. Like I said, I'm experienced, but it definitely helped to see what those guys do daily. I just learned that I need to play my game and my good golf's good enough to compete."
Bennett put together a strong college career, collecting All-American and Southeastern Conference Golfer of the Year honors along the way.
By finishing in the top five (fifth) in the PGA Tour University Ranking, Bennett earned fully exempt status membership on the Korn Ferry Tour, the main feeder of the PGA Tour.
His finish also made him exempt for the final stage of the 2023 PGA Tour Q-School. If he makes the top five there, he will earn a PGA Tour card and the right to accept unlimited PGA Tour sponsor exemptions for 2023 and 2024.
"That's incredible what PGA Tour U has done for college golfers," Bennett said. "In the past, you could be the best college golfer and not be guaranteed anything coming out the gate. So Ludvig (Aberg) got 1, now he has temporary membership and then 2 through 5 we get unlimited starts this year and next. So it's definitely helping the college game in every aspect."
Sweden's Aberg earned his PGA Tour card Monday night by finishing the college golf season No. 1 in the PGA Tour University rankings.
For Bennett, who was officially announced as the newest member of golf equipment manufacturer Ping's Tour staff on Wednesday, he's past being in awe of the pros. Now he's one of them.
"I felt like I'm experienced, like I said, and, yeah, I mean it's cool, but I'm ready to do this for a living now," Bennett said. "I mean, it's cool, but this is right where I want to be."
--Field Level Media
Snedeker's last appearance on the Tour came back at the Fortinet Championship last September. He finished tied for 59th, but he started experiencing pain in his chest during the second round. That ailment came after a 2016 sternum issue, which prompted him to go to South America for stem cell treatments over the next six years.
To deal with the chest injury, Snedeker opted to have a manubrium joint stabilization, a rare procedure in the United States.
For the experimental operation, Snedeker turned to Dr. Burton Elrod, a Nashville, Tenn., orthopedic and sports medicine surgeon who performed the same procedure 19 years ago to strengthen NFL quarterback Steve McNair's chest.
Due to risk of infection, Elrod never wanted to take part in the operation after that, though, but Snedeker persuaded him to do so.
"I talked him into one more," Snedeker said. "He told me, ‘This is the last one.' "
Snedeker underwent the surgery on Dec. 1 and was left with a 6-inch scar in addition to being relatively immobilized for the next four weeks. He did not play any golf until the first day of April, taking the time off to go on vacation and spend time with family.
However, the 42-year-old Snedeker didn't want to call it a career just yet.
"I was like, you know what, gotta jump into the deep end at some point," Snedeker said. "Until I start doing it every day, week after week, month after month, I won't know for sure if the surgery solved all of my pain issues, but so far, so good."
Snedeker is a nine-time winner on the Tour. His last title came at the Wyndham Championship in August 2018. It was the second time he won the event after prevailing in 2007.
--Field Level Media
But it's clear Rory McIlroy doesn't share the same view of the "politics" Rahm said Tuesday is keeping Team Europe's all-time leading Ryder Cup points scorer out of this year's event.
Whether players who have left for LIV Golf will be considered by their respective team captains remains an open debate, but those who have resigned their DP World Tour memberships aren't eligible to be selected by European team captain Luke Donald. That includes Garcia and fellow European Ryder Cup stalwarts Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Henrik Stenson, who was stripped of the captaincy when he joined LIV last year.
Meanwhile, Brooks Koepka sits second in the United States Ryder Cup standings, courtesy of his win at the PGA Championship that followed a runner-up finish at the Masters. That he plays for LIV and poses a big threat to the Europeans should Koepka be selected by U.S. captain Zach Johnson isn't of concern to McIlroy.
"I certainly think Brooks deserves to be on the United States team. I think with how he's played, I mean, he's second in the U.S. standings, only played two counting events," he said Wednesday ahead of the Memorial Tournament. "I don't know if there's anyone else on the LIV roster that would make the team on merit and how they're playing. But Brooks is definitely a guy that I think deserves to be on the U.S. team.
"But I have different feelings about the European team and the other side and sort of how that has all transpired. And, yeah, I don't think any of those guys should be a part of the European team."
Having spent the past year as the most outspoken LIV Golf critic among the PGA Tour membership, McIlroy's stance on Koepka represented the first sign of the ice thawing from McIlroy toward those who bolted for the Saudi-backed start-up. However, his issues with how his European counterparts have handled the move clearly remain.
McIlroy has admitted that being the de facto spokesperson among the PGA Tour membership has been an emotional drain over the past year. And whether that has contributed to the Northern Irishman's relative struggles on the golf course remains a debate.
After winning the Tour Championship and reclaiming No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking last year, McIlroy has been wildly inconsistent in 2023. Through his first nine events, he has a T2 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and finished third at the Match Play, but missed the cut at the The Players and the Masters and admitted his ball-striking was well off at the PGA Championship, despite scrambling for a T7.
"I can't remember a time where I felt so uncomfortable over the ball for four days," McIlroy said of his most recent start at Oak Hill. "So, I needed to go back home and work on some things and, yeah, feeling a lot better about it, not fighting the club face quite as much.
"Feel a little bit more free, which is obviously a nice feeling."
The Memorial is one of the few marquee events that McIlroy has yet to win, but he has long held Jack Nicklaus' signature course at Muirfield Village in Ohio in high regard. The world's third-ranked player hopes this week springboards into a positive stretch that will include the U.S. Open and The Open Championship.
"I would love to be able to put my name on the trophy and walk up that hill and get that handshake from Jack," he said. "That would be pretty nice to do."
--Field Level Media
That's because the 36-year-old is enduring what he calls an "abysmal" year on the course. Horschel has dropped to 35th in the Official World Golf ranking from 18th at the start of the year. Through nine events in 2023, he has four missed cuts and only one top-20 finish -- a tie for ninth at the Match Play.
It serves as a stark contrast as Horschel attempts to join Tiger Woods (1999-2001) as the only players to successfully defend a title at the Memorial Tournament.
"The season's been pretty bad, pretty abysmal, to tell you the truth," Horschel said Wednesday. "We tried to make some changes in the offseason to get better and unfortunately it didn't work, went back to some of the old stuff and it's just, it's taken a little bit longer."
Horschel has long been known for wearing his emotions on his sleeve on the golf course, and has publicly apologized on multiple occasions for his behavior -- including once after a video emerged of him smashing a club into his bag at the Masters.
But Horschel admitted his struggles this year have carried over following certain rounds. He pointed to a discussion with his caddie Mark Fulcher and "stats guy" Mark Horton in the parking lot after missing the cut at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March.
"I think even before I got back to the room, just in my car, just thinking about the discussion and thinking about where the game was and where I want to be and where I'm not at the moment. I sort of just broke down a little bit," Horschel said. "As much as people have seen me get upset and a little angry on the golf course, on the flip side of that, I'm not very much an emotional guy that way.
"I'm not a sappy guy -- I wouldn't say sappy not in a bad way -- but I don't cry very often -- not that people cry a lot, I don't know. But I broke down and I cried a little bit. I had tears."
The second "low" point this season came after another missed cut at the RBC Heritage -- where he shot a 74 on Friday to miss out on the weekend by three strokes.
"It was just a mental sort of grind and stress and fatigue and just on the range there for about 30 seconds just bending down," he said. "Had my head in my hands, just sort of, just trying to hold back the tears for a little bit. Because this game means so much to me and I love the game of golf and I'm so passionate about it."
Horschel said the internal pressure to live up to his own expectations, and to deliver results for the "team" and family that supports him, often gets in his way. He admitted the pressure he puts on himself has contributed to the seven-time winner historically struggling at the majors -- with a best career finish of T4 at the U.S. Open coming back in 2013.
Currently 108th in the FedEx Cup Standings, Horschel needs to move into the top 70 over the next 10 weeks in order to qualify for the playoffs for the 11th consecutive year.
His 2023 statistics would indicate Horschel faces an uphill battle. He's currently ranked outside of the top 100 in most major categories, including 171 is shots gained off the tee and 143rd in shots gained tee-to-green.
However, Horschel is confident his game is coming around. He chalked missing the cut at the PGA Championship to making "absolutely nothing" on the greens and is coming off a T40 at the Charles Schwab Invitational that would have been better if not for a 74 on Friday.
"It's been a very difficult year. It's been the hardest year of my 14 years on the golf course," he admitted. "But I'm starting to see some life, starting to see some more quality golf shots.
"My bad golf shorts aren't nearly as bad anymore. It's getting closer -- it's still not where I want it to be, but there's life in the game, finally."
--Field Level Media
Long one of the favorite stops for many tour players, the buzz around "the house that Jack built" is elevated further this year. Jack Nicklaus' signature course now features a $20 million prize pool, which has drawn seven of the top 10 and 38 of the top 50 players in the Official World Golf Ranking to Dublin, Ohio.
Our golf experts preview the Memorial, and provide their favorite prop picks along with the best bets to win this week.
THE MEMORIAL TOURNAMENT
Location: Dublin, Ohio, June 1-4
Course: Muirfield Village Golf Club (Par 72, 7,571 yards)
Purse: $20M (Winner: $3.6M)
Defending Champion: Billy Horschel
FedEx Cup leader: Jon Rahm
HOW TO FOLLOW
TV: Thursday-Friday, 2-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel); Saturday-Sunday, 12:30-2:30 p.m. (GC), 2:30-6 p.m. (CBS)
Streaming on ESPN+: Thursday-Friday, 7 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m.
--Jon Rahm to Beat Scottie Scheffler (+105 at DraftKings): Yes, Scheffler got to sleep in his own bed last week, but he is still finishing a three-week stretch of events that included the PGA and the Charles Schwab Challenge. Rahm took last week off and has a growing love affair with Muirfield Village, where he was well on his way toward defending a title when a positive COVID-19 test forced him to withdraw in 2021. He also tied for 10th last year while Scheffler skipped the event after finishing third the previous year.
--Jason Day to Finish Top 20 (+100 at BetMGM): Day's best result in 13 previous event starts was a T4 back in 2016. But the Columbus, Ohio, resident and Muirfield Village member has generally been in his best form in years. He did miss a pair of cuts around a win at the Byron Nelson, but Day does own eight top-20s in his past 11 starts.
--Patrick Rodgers to Miss Cut (+160 at DraftKings): A streaky player, Rodgers began 2023 by missing five of his first six cuts. He has made the weekend in five of his past six events, but a T19 at the RBC Heritage and a T29 at the PGA are his best results against elite fields. Rahm called Muirfield Village "target golf" and that doesn't play to Rodgers' strengths. He is 156th on tour in driving accuracy this year -- hitting only 54 percent of fairways -- and 135th in strokes gained on approach shots.
2023 Prop Picks Record: 23-30-2
--Scheffler (+600 at BetMGM) leads the tour with 11 top-10s season and has finished no worse than T12 in his past 14 starts on tour. He finished third at the Memorial two years ago. Scheffler has accounted for the third most money at the sportsbook with 9.0 percent of the money backing him to win this week. He's also third with 9.6 percent at DraftKings, where Scheffler is +600 to win this week.
--Rahm (+750) won the event in 2020 and held a six-shot lead after 54 holes in 2021 when he was forced to withdraw due to a positive COVID-19 test. He is attempting to become the first player to win five times in a season since Justin Thomas in 2016-17. Rahm opened at +800 at BetMGM, but his odds shifted with 6.6 percent of the total bets backing him. He is being offered at +700 at DraftKings, where Rahm leads the field with 11.1 percent of the bets and 17.3 percent of the money.
--Patrick Cantlay (+1000) has two wins at the Memorial and four top-five finishes in six career starts. He also holds the tournament scoring average record of 69.96 among players with at least 10 rounds played since 1983. Cantlay has drawn the most money at 13.4 percent at BetMGM along with 6.1 percent of the total bets. Meanwhile, he is second at DraftKings with 13.8 percent of the money at the same odds.
--Rory McIlroy (+1200) is making his 12th start at the Memorial, with his best finish thus far a T4 in 2016. The same odds at DraftKings has drawn a modest 2.7 percent of the total bets and 4.1 percent of the money.
--Viktor Hovland (+2000) is in the midst of a busy stretch, sliding to a T16 with a closing 73 last week after a T2 at the PGA Championship. Having made 23 consecutive cuts and with eight top-20s already this year, the Norwegian is BetMGM's biggest liability this week as he leads the field with 8.9 percent of the total bets backing him.
--Hideki Matsuyama (+4000) has rarely been in contention on Sunday of late as the Japanese star has been battling a neck injury. He did finish fifth at The Players but has not finished higher than T15 in five events since. Still, he is BetMGM's second biggest liability as Matsuyama has drawn 5.0 percent of the bets and 6.6 percent of the money to win.
--Sahith Theegala (+5000) continues to be a sentimental betting favorite following his featured episode on Netflix's "Full Swing" documentary. Despite still seeking his first PGA Tour title while competing against an elite field, Theegala is fifth at DraftKings with 5.9 percent of the money backing him.
--The only player to successfully defend at the Memorial was Tiger Woods (1999-2001). Billy Horschel (+9000), who will attempt to join him, has only two top-10s this season and sits at 108th in the FedEx Cup Standings with 10 weeks remaining before the start of the playoffs.
--Day (+3000), who won two weeks ago at the Byron Nelson, lives in Columbus, Ohio, and is a member of Muirfield Village. His best finish in 13 previous starts was a T4 in 2020.
--Rickie Fowler (+4000) has five top-10s through 15 starts this season. He had four combined top-10s over the previous three seasons. Fowler qualified for The Open Championship by moving into the top 50 in the world rankings with last week's T6 at the Charles Schwab Challenge.
--2022 Jack Nicklaus Award recipient Chris Gotterup (+35000) will make his 13th start on tour, with his best finish to date a T4 at the 2022 John Deere Classic.
--Reigning U.S. Amateur winner Sam Bennett (+25000) will make his professional debut. He finished T16 at the Masters.
--Tom Lehman holds the tournament scoring record of 268 set in 1994.
--Field Level Media
The Europeans were routed two years ago at Whistling Straits, but Rahm teamed with Spanish countryman Sergio Garcia to earn three of their team's nine points. That partnership won't be rekindled in Italy this year, with Team Europe captain Luke Donald of England telling Garcia he will not be considered.
Garcia left for LIV Golf last year and recently resigned from the DP World Tour along with Englishmen Richard Bland, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood and Sweden's Henrik Stenson, who was removed as Europe's Ryder Cup captain when he joined the Saudi-backed league.
"I'm going to miss him," Rahm said of Garcia on Tuesday ahead of the Memorial Tournament. "We had a great partnership at Whistling Straits. ... So it's a little sad to me that politics have gotten in the way of such a beautiful event. It's the best Europeans against the best Americans, period. And whatever is going on, who is playing LIV and who is not playing LIV to me shouldn't matter."
Team USA captain Zach Johnson said last week that it would be "irresponsible" for him to talk about LIV players making his team yet as Brooks Koepka went on to win the PGA Championship -- vaulting him to second in the United States' Ryder Cup standings.
The U.S. will attempt win on European soil for the first time since 1993, and Rahm believes Garcia, Europe's all-time leading Ryder Cup points scorer, should be playing in Rome come September.
Fellow Spaniards Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal scored 12 points while being paired together a record 15 times, and Rahm envisioned playing at least one more Ryder Cup with Garcia, who owns a record 28.5 career points for Europe.
Rahm is second in the Official World Golf Ranking. The next Spaniard is Pablo Larrazabal at No. 53, followed by Adrian Otaegui at No. 81 and Adri Arnaus at No. 92. Garcia has tumbled to No. 218 as LIV continues to wait for the outcome of its application to earn OWGR points for its events.
"A Spanish duo in the Ryder Cup I think to me is embedded into the roots of the Ryder Cup," Rahm said. "... It's whoever is best suited to represent the European side. And I have a hard time to believe that the best player Europe has ever had, the most successful player Europe has had on the Ryder Cup isn't fit to be on the team.
"It's unfortunate. I will miss him. But with that said I want to be hopeful, there's a couple of Spanish guys playing really good right now, so hopefully they can join me on the team."
--Field Level Media
Cantlay told reporters Tuesday he was pleased with where his game is at ahead of this week's Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio.
"I think I've done a lot of good in my golf game this year," Cantlay said. "A lot of parts of my game feel really solid. Just need to have a week where it all kind of matches up and have an above-average week in a couple different categories. That's usually what it takes to win.
"And sometimes wins can come in bunches. So hopefully that's the case."
Cantlay can speak from experience. When he won three tournaments in 2021, he was winless on the season until claiming his second title at the Memorial in early June. He followed that up with consecutive FedEx Cup playoff victories at the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship.
"So if I just keep putting myself in the right spot and keep working hard on my game the wins should come," Cantlay said.
The 31-year-old from California has had his share of close calls this season. Not only has he made 12 of 13 cuts, he's finished in the top 10 seven times and landed five top-5s. He's coming off a T9 at the PGA Championship two weeks ago, where he climbed the leaderboard late with a final-round 66.
Cantlay was asked how he reacts to not winning tournaments.
"It's frustrating any time you show up to a week and don't win," he said. "Because that's obviously the goal and that's what you're prepping and preparing for. And I think after just a little bit of reflection, if you have a close call and you played really well during a week you can at least realize that your game's in a good spot and take that momentum into an upcoming week."
While he isn't likely to shake up his swing or his equipment in search of more titles, Cantlay did make one major change this season when he hired veteran caddie Joe LaCava, the longtime caddie of Tiger Woods. The pair has been working together full-time for about a month now.
"It's been good so far," Cantlay said. "Obviously he's a pro and has seen all the places before. ... He's caddied for a number of great players. So that's been good. Yeah, I'm sure he's had a bunch of good weeks around here (the Memorial) and so have I."
Cantlay won the Memorial in 2019 and 2021, finished tied for third last season and placed fourth in 2018.
Despite never having won a major, Cantlay figures to be one of the favorites at next month's U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club. Cantlay hails from Long Beach in Los Angeles County and was a star golfer at UCLA.
He said there was no level of "frustration" with his lack of major success so far and, again, he's sure his time will come.
"Fortunately, my career's not over yet," Cantlay said.
--Field Level Media
While LIV did not provide exact attendance figures, the league said that more than 60 percent of ticket sales came from week-of-tournament sales. Saturday's second round had a higher walk-up crowd than expected, contributing to a beer shortage on Saturday at Trump National Golf Club D.C., according to multiple reports.
According to the league, around 10 percent of the ticket tales were from active-duty military or veteran service members along with children 12 and under, who receive complementary admission.
LIV Golf D.C. was the league's seventh of 14 scheduled in its second season, and the three-day event eclipsed the previous U.S. attendance record set in Tulsa, Okla., earlier this month. The crowd for Sunday's final round was around 14,000 by one organizer estimate, which was more than double what local and state law enforcement anticipated, according to Front Office Sports.
--Field Level Media
Ahead of the Memorial Tournament this week in Dublin, Ohio, the world No. 2 said he's gone back and forth on the issue of whether player-hosted legacy events like the Memorial and the Arnold Palmer Invitational should have a reduced field and no 36-hole cut.
PGA Tour events -- which normally have fields of 132, 144 or even 156 players -- typically have the top 65 players and ties after two rounds make the cut to play the weekend. Rahm mused about a hypothetical compromise where "maybe only 20 players" miss the cut.
"I think it's a part of it. You earn your way into the weekend and then you earn that win," Rahm said. "It's a part I enjoy and I experienced recently at the PGA (Championship). I mean, that Friday had a different feel when I was fighting to make the cut. It's a different type of pressure and you never know what playing good on a Friday to make the cut might ignite towards the weekend. ...
"It's a part of the history. If that went away, Tiger (Woods) making 140-something cuts in a row wouldn't have the same significance because that would never be broken again. So like I said, I pushed for the no-cut (rule) and then as time has gone by I actually, I think we should have a cut."
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan is planning to build on recent schedule changes, introduced in 2022-23 as a response to the threat from LIV Golf, by having the new "designated" or "elevated" events feature fields of 70 to 80 golfers and no 36-hole cut. This would ensure fans would see all of the best players on tour on the weekend no matter how they were playing, but it drew backlash from some players on tour who are not among the game's elite.
Tiger Woods said last month that he wants his annual event in Los Angeles, the Genesis Invitational, to keep its 36-hole cut, and added that Jack Nicklaus felt the same way about his tournament, the Memorial.
Nicklaus said Tuesday that he does not know what the 2024 schedule will look like and felt it would be fair to Monahan to "just keep my mouth shut."
The legendary golfer, now 83, said he sees positives for both a no-cut model and keeping a cut.
"I don't care either way," Nicklaus said. "... there's two sides to that coin and I think I'm going to leave that to people that are certainly a lot smarter than I am, which would be Jay and those guys."
--Field Level Media
The Texas Tech senior is also the No. 1 player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking.
The PGA Tour University program was announced in 2020 as a way for the top collegiate players to qualify for the Korn Ferry Tour, the main feeder tour below the PGA Tour. For the first time this season, the PGA Tour announced it would give the No. 1 player in the University rankings full PGA Tour status for the remainder of the season and all of the following season, bypassing Q-School for one year.
Only college seniors appear in the PGA Tour University rankings, as they accrue points based on their finishes in college, amateur and professional tournaments.
Aberg won the Big 12 individual championship for the second straight season before competing in the NCAA Division I championship this week, where he tied for 29th place.
According to reports, Aberg will make his professional debut at the RBC Canadian Open June 8-11.
Florida's Fred Biondi won the NCAA individual championship by one stroke, which earned him an exemption into the 2024 Masters.
--Field Level Media
Korda wrote that the past year has been challenging due to the back ailment.
"Following the advice of my doctor and the guidance of my physio, we've committed countless hours of treatment at home and on the road for me to try and get my body healthy and ready to compete each week," Korda wrote. "Unfortunately, we've reached (the) point where the pain is not improving, forcing me to have to withdraw out of several tournaments. As a competitor, it is upsetting to have to do this time and time again.
"At the advice of my medical team, I have made the tough decision to stop playing until I can get my back fully healthy. At this point, we don't have a firm timeline for my return but I'm working with the best of the best and am focused on coming back as soon as possible."
Korda, 30, has won six times on the LPGA Tour, but not since January 2021. Her last start came at the Cognizant Founders Cup earlier this month, and she withdrew after shooting a first-round 72. She is currently ranked No. 31 in the world.
Korda's sister, world No. 2 Nelly Korda, is also dealing with back pain and will sit out next week's tournament, the inaugural Mizuho Americas Open in Jersey City, N.J., but she is not expected to be out indefinitely.
--Field Level Media
The club professional from Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo, Calif., received a sponsor's exemption into this week's PGA Tour stop at Colonial Country Club after his stunning T15 at last week's PGA Championship.
Instead of flying from upstate New York back to California, Block was rerouted to Texas. The logistical and emotional roller coaster caught up to him.
Block shot an 11-over 81 on Thursday before turning in a 4-over 74 on Friday. As of Friday afternoon, he was likely to have the worst two-day score of the 120 competitors in the field.
"I have no legs," Block said after his round. "I was scheduled to fly out at 10 a.m. last Saturday. So if that (illustrates whether he had) any confidence on how much I had of making the cut at the PGA Championship.
"Life changed a little bit since then, and I've enjoyed every single moment."
Block started his second round on the back nine and made mostly pars, except for the par-3 13th, where his tee shot landed in the water and he ended up with a double bogey. Then he arrived at the par-4 18th and made a birdie from nearly 19 feet out.
Block carried that into the front nine, getting out of a greenside bunker at the par-5 first hole and leaving himself 4 feet for another birdie. But he followed that with his second double bogey of the round and added two bogeys on his way home.
"The tee shots killed me, honestly, this week," Block said. "I still had the short game. I still had the irons. I still had the putter and everything else, but I'm usually a very straight driver and I love a cut, and I was not feeling it.
"I got it. I'm not even surprised by it. I'm not surprised at all by my kicks and whatever else happened, my lies. It is what it is, and I'm moving on."
The 46-year-old had won over average sports fans with not only his game but also his amiable attitude, seen in "walk-and-talk" television interviews during his rounds Thursday and Saturday of the PGA Championship.
"I thought I was just going to hit a chord with like 40-year-old -- what do they call it? Dad bods," Block said. "I thought I was going to hit a chord with the dad bods, which I think I did, but I think I hit a chord with all the other ones too, which is really, really cool. I met a lot of young people and old people and middle-aged people and whatever else. It's my appreciation to them all. I just want to say thank you."
Block has played in PGA Tour events on sponsor's exemptions before, most recently two tournaments in January in Southern California, where he missed the cut. He also received an exemption into next month's RBC Canadian Open and will attempt to qualify for the U.S. Open.
"I can't wait for Canada, to tell you the truth," Block said. "I cannot wait. I cannot wait to get to Toronto."
--Field Level Media
At Stanford, Zhang posted 12 wins -- the most in school history -- in 20 events. Eight of those came in 2022-23 in just 10 events, and she's tied with Tiger Woods for most wins in Stanford history in a single season.
The No. 1-ranked amateur in the world and a two-time first-team All-American, she is the first woman to win two NCAA titles. She twice set the NCAA single-season scoring average record, besting her 69.68 average as a freshman with a 68.81 mark as a sophomore.
The 20-year-old Zhang shared her summer schedule. which includes all four remaining women's major events on the LPGA schedule. She has received exemptions from the AIG Women's British Open and the U.S. Women's Open.
"The endless love, support and inspiration from so many people brought me to this point of my golf career. From my teammates to my coaches and trainers, to my friends and family -- you have all been integral in my journey, shaping me as a person and player while making sacrifices for my success. You have made it possible for me to pursue my dreams," Zhang wrote on Instagram.
Zhang said she will continue to pursue her degree in communications at Stanford and will train at the university's golf training center. It's clear her presence on the team will be missed.
"It's cliche to say, but I never dreamed of having the opportunity to coach the greatest female amateur of all-time," Stanford women's coach Anne Walker said. "Rose Zhang has led our team with class both on and off the golf course every day for two years. She's broken every record, won every championship and taken our team to the top of college golf. I'm quite certain I'll never coach anyone quite like Rose again -- she's a generational player."
--Field Level Media